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Florida House Passes Open Carry Bill

After roughly two hours of intense debate, the Florida House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday in favor of passing the open carry bill along to the floor.

Support for the bill, HB 163, was equated to support for Second Amendment rights by sponsor Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.

“I want to vindicate a right for open carry,” Gaetz said.

The 12-4 vote didn't happen without compromise. Per negotiations with the Florida Police Chiefs Association, open carry weapons will be required to be holstered. The House Judiciary Committee added that weapons could also be contained in purses and other bags.

The bill awaits a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where, just last week, chair Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, effectively stopped the controversial campus carry bill.

Bradley is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing